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Fake Lao Tzu Quote

"Being deeply loved by someone..."

Fake Lao Tzu quote: Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength...

This is NOT a quote from Tao Te Ching:


"Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage."






Love is not a subject that Lao Tzu explored in his Tao Te Ching. Already that makes it certain: This is a fake Lao Tzu quote.

       And if that would not suffice, the clumsy pop song lyrics of the quote are far below what Lao Tzu mustered. Loving deeply - as if there is a meaningful way of measuring it. And if it were measurable, why do it vertically downwards? Might the expression hint at love being profound when it reaches all the way down to the groin?

       Furthermore, is strength really what you get from being loved? Not joy, for example? And it may take some courage to express one's love towards somebody, but is that the sole reward of it? The quote kind of implies, involuntarily, that the true blessings come from a love less deep.


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       In any case, it has nothing to do with what Lao Tzu discussed. Nor would that strange egotistical focus on the sentiment we call love appeal to his contemporaries. This quote has no place in ancient China. It is a modern wording of modern ideas.

       The oldest book with the quote I have found is Lightning from 1988, by the famous novelist Dean Koontz (at the start of part 1, page 1), using a semicolon instead of a comma after "strength," which is a bit excessive. He accredited it to Lao Tzu, giving no source.

       The literary form of the quote has similarities to that of Tao Te Ching, but definitely not the content. So, I wonder where Koontz can have gotten it. Even if he was paraphrasing, which is not unlikely with a novelist, he must have done so from another source than Lao Tzu.

       Altering the wording of the quote slightly, with "to be deeply loved" instead of "being deeply loved," gives an interesting result - a poem written by Esther Huertas, a Puerto Rican woman participating in an adult literacy program:


to be deeply loved
by someone gives you
strength
but to love someone
deeply gives you
courage
I'm not afraid to die
but I'd rather not be there
when it happens
but when I dream that
I'm alive, it seems like I'm dead
when I awaken.


       According to the book Affirming Cultural Citizenship in the Puerto Rican Community from 1991, by Rosa M. Torruellas et al., the poem is from September 29, 1988 (page 65). It is not very likely that Koontz found this quote the very year he published his novel. Still, it is baffling that something this similar appeared that same year.

       This type of wording of the quote discussed here has also been ascribed to Lao Tzu, in Happily Forever After from 2004, by Kim A. Nelson (page 8), where it reads:


To be deeply loved by someone gives you strength; to deeply love someone gives you courage.


       The use of a semicolon indicates that this quote is a paraphrase from Koontz's book. I have not found it in any other book.

       Another part of the Huertas poem has a predecessor in Woody Allen, from his 1975 book Without Feathers, where a character in his play manuscript "Death" says:


It's not that I'm afraid to die, I just don't want to be there when it happens.


       This absurd joke fits the mind of Allen more than the sentiment of the poem by Huertas, which makes me wonder if she picked up both this part and that about love from literary sources. Woody Allen's book from 1975 might definitely be one, and if Koontz's book was released before September 1988 it might be another. Amazon claims that it was published January 12 that year, which would be plenty of time for Huertas to read and paraphrase it. The last part of her poem, though, I have not been able to trace to another source.

       And the problem of where Koontz might have gotten the quote from remains.

       The quote examined here is very popular, no doubt partly due to its appearance in Koontz's novel. On the Goodreads website, this is by far the most liked quote ascribed to Lao Tzu, with well over 30,000 likes (August 2020). That is six times more than the second most popular one. It's a pity that this web sensation has nothing to do with Lao Tzu.

Stefan Stenudd
April 2, 2017, revised September 19, 2020.



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Fake Lao Tzu Quotes - Erroneous Tao Te Ching Citations Examined. Book by Stefan Stenudd. Fake Lao Tzu Quotes

Erroneous Tao Te Ching Citations Examined. 90 of the most spread false Lao Tzu quotes, why they are false and where they are really from. Click the image to see the book at Amazon (paid link).

       More about the book here.



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